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Written by Chloe Green

Culinary and Fly-Fishing Adventures at The Royal Coachmen Pop-Up Experience

Royal Coachmen

It’s a peaceful evening at Suttle Lake Lodge with its breathtaking natural views and rustic atmosphere. The lake is glassy, the surrounding forest is vibrant and the aroma of delicious food drifts down to the boathouse. The Royal Coachmen, a pop-up culinary and fly-fishing experience was setting up for an evening of community, nature and nourishment.

Founded in 2022 by Doug Adams and James Park, The Royal Coachmen is a dining series that celebrates good food, community and nature by bringing premier culinary artistry to the banks of beautiful streams, rivers and lakes. Park said, “At its essence, The Royal Coachmen is about bringing people together—chefs, brewers, guides, local fishing experts, winemakers and guests, and creating a one-of-a-kind experience.” There is no better duo to lead these evenings than Adams and Park. 

Royal Coachmen
Eric Bartle, of The Wilderness Hunters. Photo by Kevin Prieto

Adams, a renowned Portland-based chef with decades of experience in the restaurant industry, is the brain behind The Royal Coachman’s mouthwatering menus. His resume includes stints at some of Portland’s most loved eateries, Pok Pok, Ox, and Paley’s Place, to name a few. Many may also recognize him from his 2015 appearance as a Bravo network’s  “Top Chef” finalist. In 2016 he opened his first restaurant, Bullard, which specialized in Tex-Mex-inspired cuisine. His Texan roots shine through in many of his culinary works, with his beloved fried chicken earning him a nomination for a 2016 James Beard Award Rising Star. He has achieved many of the goals most chefs set out to accomplish, but along the way, he found that balance can be hard to obtain. He says that his years spent in high-profile, fast-paced kitchens were some of the best of his life but that it also meant he was working fifteen-hour days six to seven days a week. The Royal Coachmen was a chance to slow down and reconnect with his love for the outdoors. 

Park, an expert fly fisherman and owner of the Red Truck Fly Fishing Company in Sacramento, was a crucial inspiration for Adams to spend more time in nature. The pair first crossed paths several years ago at a street fair in Portland. They connected instantly over a love of fishing, and Park promised to take an overworked Adams, who hadn’t been able to get out on the water in years, on a fishing trip. From there, the friendship only grew, and soon the idea of combining their two great passions came to fruition. 

It was early 2022 when the pair first discussed The Royal Coachmen, and within just a few months, they had hosted events in Seattle and Portland. Adams prepares the food while Park gives fly-fishing demos, offering insight into casting technique and tying skills. Each dinner has its unique and memorable flair. “We’ve served sandwiches in fly shop parking lots, we’ve done seven-course dinners on a dock right on the water and popped up at some of Portland’s best restaurants,” Adams said. Their only rule is that the food must be meaningful and delicious.

Royal Coachmen
Attendees learn to fish with James Park at The Royal Coachmen events. Photo by Kevin Prieto

They achieve this through the food’s expert preparation and deep connection with Oregon’s landscape. Guests will enjoy wines and produce sourced from the Willamette Valley and seafood fresh from the Oregon Coast. Adams said, “When I cook and enjoy these things, it brings me a deep sense of connection to where I live and the people that bring it to life.”  

In preparing the Suttle Lake Lodge pop-up menu, Adams sourced inspiration from childhood memories of stopping at roadside steakhouses with his dad post-fishing. He brought along guest chef Peter Cho, owner of the award-winning Han Oak restaurant, and together they delivered a delicious Old West Steakhouse meal.

The evening began with refreshing and light starters. The Bay Shrimp Cocktail, complete with freshly made cocktail sauce, iceberg lettuce, and lemon, was served alongside a flavorful and bright Heirloom Tomato and Blue Cheese salad dressed in a zesty lemon herb vinaigrette. The creamy, pungent blue cheese paired with the sweetness of the heirloom tomatoes made for a balanced and delicious flavor profile, topped with summer beans, basil and hazelnuts for a little crunchy texture.

A diverse relish tray provided various fermented vegetables, and an array of tastes from plum vinegar pickles to smoked Jimmy Nardello peppers, and sweet baby corn to daikon kimchi, a traditional Korean condiment made from fermented radish. No relish tray is complete without the sauces, and Adams didn’t disappoint. There was a sweet, spicy, candied jalapeño caper relish and a thick and delicious horsey cream sauce. Warm dinner rolls provided a soft buttery vehicle for all. 

The chefs prepared most main courses with the signature Royal Coachman style of open-flame cooking. The smoked prime rib acted as the hearty anchor of the meal, which paired well with the rich and slightly tangy creamed braising greens. Finally, the charred scallion mashed potatoes were soft and buttery while maintaining great flavor.

Royal Coachmen
Grilled salmon, with candied jalapeño and caper relish,
served with homemade salt and vinegar chips.

For dessert was Adam’s take on a sweet and refreshing strawberry shortcake. The tart balsamic strawberries, velvety EVOO whip cream, and flavorful basil made for a mouthwatering end to the evening. 

For a taste of The Royal Coachmen, you’re in luck, as the duo plans to continue hosting beautiful dinners in memorable places with a clear mission: “Connection is what we are after.” Adams said. “That’s the heart of Royal Coachmen. Connecting people to people, people to nature, connecting me with fish.”  

Learn more and reserve your seat at theroyalcoachmen.com.

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